Rwandans, Friends of Rwanda in US appeal for leveraging storytelling to preserve memory

Washington April 7, 2022. Rwandans and friends of Rwanda in the United have called for leveraging storytelling to educate younger generations about the Genocide against Tutsi.

The call was made in Washington DC during the commemorative event on April 7, to mark the 28th commemoration of the Genocide against Tutsi.

The hybrid event featured panel discussions with academicians, author, and diaspora members.

Drew Kahn, an award-winning professor, actor and producer reiterated the role of storytelling saying that silence is the enemy of progress.

He said that Rwanda’s efforts to be in charge of its own story has provided immense success. Adding “I am extremely impressed by Rwanda’s ability to use story as a sustained tool against the silence that would encourage denial. One of the essential ingredients to make sure Genocide happens is that good people must do nothing.”  He said.

The panelists challenged the world to speak out on what happened during the Genocide against Tutsi to help younger generation and the world understand and preserve memory.

The event-hosted testimonies from survivors currently residing in the United States.

Ms.Providence Umugwaneza, a genocide survivor and Founder of the Kabeho Neza Initiative highlighted the importance of social media in storytelling “Social media is one of the best tools we can use to tell our stories, internet never forgets. Younger generations need to be educated; we can use Twitter, YouTube, etc. Let us use social media to counter fake information about the Genocide.”

She added that telling stories about Genocide is not only for Genocide survivors, it is everyone’s responsibilities.

Dr. Phodidas Ndamyumugabe genocide survivor and author of “Preaching from the Grave” shared testimonies of the hardships he endured during genocide.  “Bloodshed was everywhere, militiamen with their machetes and knives. There was no way out.”

Dr. Jean- Damascène Gasanabo explained that commemoration itself is a way of storytelling that helps the younger generation.  He commended the government of Rwanda efforts to include Genocide against Tutsi in the curriculum and called for the rest of the world to do so.

Ambassador of Rwanda to the United States, Mathilde Mukantabana noted that the first weapon against Genocide Ideology is Education. She said, “In Rwanda, we are continuously educating the younger generation about the genocide and instead of what separates us, we rather emphasize on the commonalities of our human experiences.”

Mr. Ervin Massinga, the United State Department’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs reiterated the commitment of his country to bring Genocide fugitives to justice “United States will continue to walk side by side with Rwandan people, Government of Rwanda and International Community to bring those responsible for Genocide to justice”

The event organized by the Embassy of Rwanda in Washington, IBUKA-USA and Rwandan community in US was attended by over 600 people both virtually and physically.

You can watch the event here.


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